Customer Reviews for

Back When We Were Grownups

Average Rating 4
( 46 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 46 Customer Reviews
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  • Posted April 12, 2010

    Ever wanted to have a life do-over?

    "Back When We Were Grownups" is not a new book. It was first published in 2001, made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie in 2004 and just recently I happily came across it.
    This is Anne Tyler's 15th book, however I'd never heard of her. I'm glad I picked this book up because it really makes the reader think about what would have happened had they taken a different path with their lives than the one they ended up choosing.
    Rebecca is a 53-year-old mother of four daughters and many grandchildren. She runs an in-home business hosting and catering parties for people in the Baltimore area. She inherited this business from her late husband, and she's not sure she even enjoys the work any longer. She certainly realizes the house that she lives in, the same house where the parties are hosted, is getting more run down by the day and something will have to be done about it soon.
    When Rebecca starts having a recurring dream of spending time with a young blonde-haired boy whom she strongly feels is her son, she mentions it to one of her daughters. The daughter tells Rebecca that she must be dreaming about the other path her life could have taken, and it must have included having a son.
    This idea gets Rebecca thinking about the point in which her life made a dramatic turn. She was in college, dating her life-long sweetheart Will, when she attends a party. During the course of the evening, the party's host, Joe, comes up to her and asks if she's enjoying herself. Rebecca takes one look at Joe and an immediate bond forms. The fact that he is thirteen years her senior and has three young daughters, nor the fact that Rebecca has a man she plans on marrying back at school doesn't seem to matter to either of them.
    After a short courtship, Rebecca leaves Will abruptly and marries Joe just a few weeks later.
    However, Rebecca and Joe's marriage does not last long. He is killed in a car crash just six years after they marry and Rebecca is left with the party hosting business and, now, four young daughters. She manages to live life, carrying on the family business, eventually turning into the matriarch of a large, eclectic family, until one day she is fifty-three years old and dreaming of a whole other life she could have had.
    On a whim, she decides to hunt Will down and see where he is at in life. After a rocky start, the two decide to spend more and more time together. Although Rebecca is very busy with the business and busy trying to manage all the family members and their various needy issues, she decides she does have time to have a life of her own after so many years of only doing things for other people.
    The idea that everyone has a life they could have had, completely different than the one they have now is very interesting. It is an idea that I'm sure everyone can relate to. We have all made deliberate choices that have turned out great or not so great. But for Rebecca, getting a chance to go back and have a do-over is a cool idea that most people don't get to, or don't want to do.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2004

    What was the point?

    This was my first Anne Tyler book, and will probably be my last. I finished it only because I can't stand to put a book down in the middle. The main character, Rebecca, was a whiny middle-aged woman who, instead of being grateful for what she had, was constantly wondering 'what if?' Now, I know we all wonder that at times, but enough is enough. When she does finally retrace her steps, leading her back to her high school sweetheart, nothing new happens, no epiphany of what could have been. Her step-daughters and her biological daughter are some of the most annoying characters that I have ever encountered. They are hateful, unappreciative, neurotic, and self-absorbed. This story left me with the feeling that I just wanted to smack them all and tell them to get a real life!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2004

    Absolutely Awful..

    I have heard good things about this author. This is the first of her books I have read. Apparently I chose the wrong one.She must be 'famous' for her other works because this story was depressing and pointless. I have never seen more boring characters.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2004

    No guts, no action, no revelations

    Maybe it's just that people in my age range can't relate w/the mid-life crisis 'drama' staged in this novel. While it flows well, it was boring. Nothing of substance seems to happen at all, no suspense, no thrills, no whitty banter. At best, it showed the difficulties of being broken up w/twice, heartache, uncomfortable situations. Yes, matriachs deserve appreciation for their efforts in maintaining some form of family harmony, but good god, could it be more mundane????? I recommend to skip it altogether. Sorry Anne, better luck next time.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2003

    Not bad, but doesn't convert me to a Tyler fan

    I've never been much of an Anne Tyler fan, but they keep assigning her books in reading groups. Except for the first and last chapter, this is the most interesting Tyler work that I've read so far. The last chapter, however left me so disappointed that I wondered what the point was. [The story is amply recapped in other places, so I won't repeat it.] The first chapter reminded me of 'Can this marriage be saved?'. I kept imagining a counselor talking to the family members about the need to discuss expectations and what they really wanted and needed from one another. It was certainly easy to see why finding oneself with such a collection of unpleasant relatives would make Rebecca wonder where she went wrong. I was sympathetic to her attempts to figure out how else things might have gone and might yet go. I found much of this very true and funny and read it with great interest. Unfortunately, the ending was disappointing. Tyler left a lot of ends hanging; did she intend this to be a clever expression of ambivalence or was it just sloppy writing? Rebecca has by no means exhausted her possibilities, but I don't think we are to believe that she will continue to pursue them. I THINK that the end was supposed to be a dissolution of the tensions that had driven Rebecca, but really, nothing has been resolved. It reminds me of a television episode where one is supposed to believe that three minutes of discussion reconciles thirty years of misunderstanding and they lived happily ever after.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 28, 2013

    If yoiu are an older woman and sometimes wonder what life would

    If yoiu are an older woman and sometimes wonder what life would have been like had you choose a different path, then this book is for you. Wonderful charecters - Anny Tyler really weaves a good tail. I am a reader and this is on my top 100 books list.

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  • Posted February 6, 2010

    B-O-R-I-N-G

    This was probably the most boring book I have ever read. I kept reading it, hoping that something would happen. I only finished it because I can't bear to leve a book half finished. I usually keep my books, but I donated this one to a cooperative shelf. It was my first Anne Tyler book, and I'm sure the last.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2009

    Okay

    This book was just ok. It left me wanting more of a story, a better ending, It left me without closure, though I loved the characters and the voice of Blair Brown.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2007

    It relates to anyone who has read it.

    This book was exceptional. It was wonderful from the nutty characters, to one childs longing to connect to her dead mother. It expresses a childs need for their mother, or mother figure. How people will look for comfort in the strangest of places and find the comfort in themselves. It is a great book and I think everyone can relate to it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2004

    The road not taken

    I am my big reader. This is my favorite contemporary book of all time. Beautifully written. Critics may find it hard to get through beacuse it does not have a picture perfect ending and something is left to the imagination. A complex yet so simple a story. Give it a chance...this book and this author made me a reader. I typically take couple of weeks to finish a book, as I take my time. I read this in one day. A book full of lifes lessons by one of the best authors of our time!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2003

    LOST IN THE PAST

    THIS BOOK IS THE BEST ONE I HAVE READ IN A LONG TIME. I HAVEN'T READ MUCH IN A LONG TIME AND NEVER HAVE BEEN A FAN OF READING. AS I GET OLDER, I HAVE FOUND MYSELF THINKING OF THE PAST AND WONDERING ABOUT THE 'WHAT-IFS'' THIS BOOK REALLY HELPED ME TO REALIZE YOU CAN'T CHANGE THE PAST AND YOU HAVE TO CHERISH THOSE AROUND YOU AND ACCEPT HOW THINGS WORK. IT ONLY TOOK ME TWO DAYS TO FINSH THE BOOK. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT TO EVERYONE.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2003

    relax......... You're on Anne Tyler time

    Sit back and enjoy fellow readers because the master of family fun is back with a new novel for us to sit with for hours on end. Ms. Tylers excellent new novel allows us to relax and watch a family strangely like our own. Since her marriage to Joe Davitch, Rebecca has always felt out of place with her life. Until one day, at her thrid stepdaughters engagement party, she realizes she has turned into the wrong person. The discovery of this realizes that she has done nothing with her life since a party at colllege when a charming young man came up to her and said 'I can see your'e having a wonderful time' (she wasn't) She later married that man, and now, many years later, nothing has happened since. Not that she isn't happy with her stepdaughters Patch, No-No, and Biddy. And her own family Min Foo. But when Rebecca decides to change her life and the way people look at her, she finds out what she never knew was really there all along. This is the second novel I have read by Anne Tyler, the other being A Patchwork Planet. Tyler created very real characters, and we can be sure we know or have met them before. The wacky trials and tribulations of the Davitch Clan will have readers touched and smiling, thinking, 'I know that family. It's mine.' -Shane Fallon

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2003

    A Page Turner

    This was my first Anne Tyler and it definitely won't be my last. I sat down and nearly finished the whole thing in one sitting. Something about the main character, Rebecca kept me going. There was this need to see how she turned out. It was really beautifully written and the characters were so well developed and poignant. She has a way with names...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2002

    You are the characters...

    The thing I love about Anne Tyler is that she makes you feel like one of the characters, like it is your story playing out. Empathetic, fully engaging, quick-moving with good plot twists. A thoroughly enjoyable read reminiscent of Shade of the Maple by Kirk Martin.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2002

    Bootleg entry

    'Good Job!', by Erica Thompson-Gustalavi (Harcourt, Brace, Jowanowich) $24.74 Inspiring, uplifting tale of a typical soccermom of suburban N.J. as she deals with the exigencies of daily life, including simultaneous careers as a pediatric cardovascular surgeon, county court judge and investment banker. All while hubby is running his successful dot.com, 'Makurich', studying for the priesthood and running for mayor of Newark. Originally titled 'All Isn't Nearly Enough', it went through 7 rewrites while the author bore three children and finished a doctorate in geology from Brandeis. If the reader can tolerate the frequent typos (understandable in the light of multi-commitments and deadlines) and rather poor grammar and punctuation (the author was schooled post-1960's), she (preferably) is in for a real 'kick', as soccer does eventually enter into the family's crowded, high-achieving schedule. It's well-done, with good humor, unstinting optimism and resolve, especially the parts about dealing with career(s), three energetic, autistic children and a recent marital separation. A summer read to remember for a certain amount of time after the World Cup.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2002

    Breathtakingly human

    I tried The Accidental Tourist and Breathing Lessons and could not get into Anne Tyler at all. This book blew away all my preconceived notions about Tyler's style. It is warm and witty and engaging. I nearly missed my subway stop, I was so absorbed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2002

    Could be Anne Tyler's best so far!

    Anne Tyler writes like Norman Rockwell paints: Wonderful characters that could live down the block from you, dealing with all of the things that life hands them. I have read every Anne Tyler novel to date, and up until I read this one, I think that 'Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant' was my favorite. Every time Tyler comes out with a new book, it's guaranteed to be a treat and this one is certainly no exception.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2001

    Boring

    I found this book to be boring

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2001

    A Great Read!

    Anne Tyler is one of my favorite authors, and she doesn't disappoint me with her newest novel. I didn't want to put the book down. The characters are quirky, yet so true-to-life! I could identify alot of family members with characters in this book. All of us wonder at one point or another in our lives who we really are or, what if...? I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2001

    A grand rich, subtle novel

    Anne Tyler continues to add to a body of work that shows compassion, love, and understanding of quirky yet ordinary people. Like herself probably, her characters mature in odd and wonderful, yet meaningful ways.

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 46 Customer Reviews
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